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Ifueko Omoigui Okauru {Last update 21/11/2012}
An Embodiment Of Excellence

“Greatness is not an attribute of the strong or the mighty, but a virtue achieved by those who dare to travel on that lonely and narrow road called excellence”.

The values expressed above exemplifies the solid foundation of the dynamic reforms zooming across the dual-carriage highway of Federal Inland Revenue

Service (FIRS), which was laid by the immediate past executive chairman of FIRS and Joint Tax Board, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, when she was calling the shot at the Revenue House, headquarters of FIRS, Abuja.

William Shakespare said, “be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” (Twelfth Night). Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, not minding her background, believed not only that some are born great or some have greatness thrust upon them, but also that greatness can be attained by living a life that thrives on excellence and making excellence her watchword, because greatness is repeated excellence over a long period of time.

Before her appointment as Executive Chairman of FIRS and Joint Tax Board, FIRS like other sister agencies and parastatals of government which included, but not limited to the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), used to be an appendage of the ruling party, which they used to compensate those who lost out during the party primaries or during the general elections and those party faithful who worked for the success of the party during the general elections.

FIRS operated as a toothless bull dog which could only bark, but not bite in matters of tax collection and revenue generation until the emergence of a visionary, charismatic and erudite leadership at the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) led by Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru.

Under her leadership, annual tax revenue rose from slightly below N1.2 trillion, in 2004, when she assumed office, to over N4.6 trillion in 2011. This rise in revenue generation was sustained by her successor, Alhaji Kabir Mashi Mashi, who is still in acting capacity at the time of writing this article. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru-led leadership in FIRS indirectly diversified our economy by spear-heading the generation IGR which stood at over N4.6 trillion in 2011, which was above the 2011 national budget, which stood at N4.4 trillion. This implies that the IGR generated by federal government via FIRS under the leadership of Ifueko Okauru could have financed our 2011 budget comfortably, without any input from the over-burden crude oil earning; which accounts for 90% of our foreign exchange.

If this height attained by Ifueko Okauru could be replicated in other sectors of our economy, Nigeria will be on her sure way of being economically viable and at the same time gain her economic independence from crude oil revenues. Under her leadership, FIRS ensured the passage into law of the following Acts: FIRS (Establishment) Act 2007, National Automotive Council (Amendment) Act 2007, Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act 2007, and the Companies Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2007. Together, these Acts formed the nucleus of the new push that reformed the nation’s tax administration and subsequently laid the solid foundation of taxation in Nigeria.

The new tax regime which is a product of Personal Income Tax (Amendment) Act, initiated by her leadership, came into effect on June 14, 2011. The Tax policy compels the president and his vice as well as governors and their deputies to pay tax on their earnings; as these will help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the country.

The introduction of Personal Income Tax policy exposed the true courageous spirit and strength of character which she possessed, because it takes an audacious and sagacious person to initiate a policy that will impose tax on her employer (Presidency). Mrs. Okauru entrenched transparency and accountability in the day to day operations of FIRS by introducing the E-payment system which enabled her in blocking all financial leakages in the system, thereby increasing the national IGR (Internally-Generated Revenue).

The truth is, you might like Omoigui Okauru, you might even loathe her tasty impatience for result and excellence, her rigor and insistence on relentless pursuit of skills and training for the staff. Ifueko Okauru made the welfare of the staff of FIRS her number one priority during her reign as the executive chairman, because she subscribed to what Schopenhauer wrote, “intellect is a magnitude of intensity, not a magnitude of extensity.” Mrs. Ifeuko Okauru braced the trail in the financial sector as the executive chairman and Joint Tax Board, she also left an indelible legacy on the heart of Nigerians.

She is not only an embodiment of excellence; but an epitome of simplicity. I met her for the first time during a conference in Abuja; I was flabbergasted and puzzled when I discovered that she was not only a yardstick to measure excellence; but an oasis of humility and kind-heartedness, not minding her high profile status in the society. Mrs. Okauru treats everyone she gets in touch with as an important personality, because she understands that, “all men were born equal in right and dignity,” apologies to Martin Luther King, Jnr. Mrs. Ifueko Okauru has made a thunderous statement using the reforms she championed when she was at the helm of affairs in FIRS; that institutions can change for good, when the right people are given the opportunity to lead. The outstanding results she got during her tenure, has collaborated what Dr. Myles Munroe said about good leadership; “an army of sheep led by a lion will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” This is also in line with John Maxwell’s statement that, “everything rises and falls on leadership.”

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